A few days ago I got an email from a hacker supposedly using an email of mine (he was using the same email address TO and FROM) from my own email domain, and had a part of a password I use to purchase items with this particular email but not the one associated with the email server at HostGator, and threatening me with bogus claims and demanding a ransom.

I used haveibeenpwned and resulted in 7 sites (i.e. Linkedin hacks) and 1 paste. I read your sites answers and Troy's info but do not understand how to proceed. I am a small biz man and not a coder.

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    Was the password fragment one of the ones on haveibeenpwned?
    – schroeder
    Oct 4, 2018 at 15:51
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    Something like described in Sextortion Scam Uses Recipient’s Hacked Passwords? Got lot of these - you can safely ignore them, the hacker has nothing what he claimed - only an old password from you stolen on some hacked site. Oct 4, 2018 at 15:52
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    change your passwords if you've reused the ones in the accounts that are listed in haveibeenpwnd. After that, like ThoriumBR suggests, he's probably just scamming you.
    – xorist
    Oct 4, 2018 at 16:20
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    Don't look for the password in haveibeenpwned, look for your email, this way you will see which leaked service was used.
    – Goufalite
    Jan 10, 2019 at 10:31

4 Answers 4


This is a known scam. The scammers look up emails and cracked passwords in public leaks of site databases and then send an extortion email to people. The password is already out in the open, sorry. You should change the passwords on all sites using that password. On the up-side, this does mean that the person who is emailing you is not actually a hacker and they have not infected your computer.

You should use a password manager to prevent this from being an issue in the future.

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    @GuillaumeBeauvois One free password manager, KeePass, is often considered the best.
    – forest
    Jan 10, 2019 at 8:40
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    @GuillaumeBeauvois The free version of Lastpass is better than KeePass. I have been using both for 3 years in my laptop and office environment. Jan 10, 2019 at 9:50
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    @IamtheMostStupidPerson There was a post here recently that hinted that LastPass may actually be handling security reports really poorly. I forget where that post is, but it's sufficient to be weary of it.
    – forest
    Jan 10, 2019 at 9:51
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    @IamtheMostStupidPerson "better" in which sense? Easier to use, for sure, but surely not safer, since one is cloud-based and the other is not. Jan 10, 2019 at 11:12
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    Just to add to that EFF also have an article on the scam
    – VLAZ
    Jan 10, 2019 at 12:12

This is a scam attempt. Don't worry. Your password probably leaked somewhere (and you don't have different passwords for each service) and he is just trying to make you pay.

And forging the From: header on an email is as easy as writing a letter to someone writing a different sender name on the envelope.

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    Good answer! I'd add that he should change his password wherever he used the leaked one.
    – Anders
    Oct 5, 2018 at 9:08

Especially last week I came across the similar phishing attack with different versions both for our clients and our employees. When I searched online I found these sources: emailscams and sextortion.

Basically, they are using leaked passwords and sending scam emails asking a ransom to pay. It would be safe to ignore this kind of emails and change your passwords if they exist in leaked websites.


I will follow the next steps:

  1. Don't pay to the guy, and don't respond to his emails
  2. Change the password from another different machine, probably yours is infected with something.
  3. Format your computer or install an AV to verify the existence of malware or key logger or other malicious activity.


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    This is not correct. This is a well-known and popular scam. OP's computer is not infected.
    – forest
    Jan 10, 2019 at 8:33
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    @forest At least this isn't proof of that, aside from that, one never knows for sure^^ Jan 10, 2019 at 12:26
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    @forest Agreeing with Darkwing here; why would you state something so factually when you don't know? Sure it's a well-known and popular scam, but you don't whether OP's computer is infected with something. Jan 10, 2019 at 12:34
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    @user1717828 Obviously there's always a chance that someone is infected with something, but it would be completely unrelated to this incident and isn't even worth bringing up.
    – forest
    Jan 10, 2019 at 12:44

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